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Mercury-bound spacecraft sends back first selfies

ESA and JAXA's BepiColombo mission blasted into space and snapped some charming self-portraits.

BepiColombo turns the camera on itself in space.


Here's looking at you, BepiColombo.

The European Space Agency launched an ambitious mission to Mercury just before the weekend and the intrepid explorer is already starring in its own space selfies. 

BepiColombo snapped the three images shortly after blasting into space. You can see the solar wings, antennas and pieces of the spacecraft's structure in the photos. 

The BepiColombo mission consists of two orbiters that will seek to build our knowledge of Mercury, one the least-explored planets in the solar system. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, is a partner in the mission. 

Once BepiColombo reaches Mercury orbit, it will split the two orbiters out from each other. The mission hopes to answer some lingering questions about the planet that's closest to the sun. Does it have a solid or liquid core? Is it tectonically active? Is water ice hiding in its craters?

The monitoring cameras used for the selfies will come into play during the mission's seven-year cruise, especially during flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury. 

Humanity has only sent two previous missions to Mercury, NASA's Mariner 10 in 1973 and then Messenger in 2004.